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Politics / Issues

State News: Grant Prepares To Run; Convicted Doctor’s Stay Rejected

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myeyesurgeons.com

An appeals court has rejected an emergency stay sought by the Florida Department of Health to prevent reinstatement of the license of Broward County ophthalmologist Alan Mendelsohn, who went to federal prison after a political-corruption probe.

The state Board of Medicine took action in August to reinstate Mendelsohn's license, but the Department of Health in October asked the board to reconsider the decision. The department argued that Mendelsohn had not fully complied with a settlement agreement, at least in part because Mendelsohn remained in a halfway house in Dania Beach, according to board documents.

The Board of Medicine denied the request for reconsideration, leading the department to file an appeal with the 1st District Court of Appeal and seek a stay of the license reinstatement.

In a decision last week, a three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed to handle the appeal in an expedited fashion, but a majority of the panel denied the motion for an emergency stay. Judge Scott Makar dissented from part of the ruling and argued that the stay should have been granted.

"Expediting the disposition of this license reinstatement matter is sensible, and I concur in our order to do so,'' Makar wrote.  "I do not see the sensibility, however, of denying the emergency stay sought by the Department of Health, which seeks to prevent a physician convicted of federal crimes, who is currently serving out his sentence in a halfway house controlled by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, from practicing medicine in the state of Florida during the pendency of this appeal. Denial of the stay allows the physician's medical license to be reinstated immediately, thereby allowing him to practice medicine while still in the ongoing custody of federal prison officials in Dania, Florida."

The Mendelsohn case was high-profile in Broward County and Tallahassee, as he was a major political fund-raiser. Among other things, he was accused of drawing money from political committees and using it for personal expenses.

Former state Rep. James Grant, a Tampa Republican who was not seated in the House last month because of a long-running election dispute, has taken the first formal step toward returning to the Legislature.

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Credit Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives
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Florida House of Representatives
Rep. James W. Grant, R-Tampa, center, speaks with Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula; and Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, on the House floor in 2013.

Grant filed paperwork last week to run in a special election in House District 64. Grant easily won re-election in November, but the House rejected the results because of a court battle that has focused on write-in candidate Daniel John Matthews.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in October overturned a lower-court ruling that said Matthews could not run for the seat. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said the House's decision against seating Grant was meant to break a logjam between the courts and Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

A special primary election in District 64 would be held Feb. 10, with a special general election April 21. Filing the paperwork, at least in part, allows Grant to raise money for the race.